If you’re a Veteran with a service-connected disability that has been rated the same or above a specific rating percentage for 20 years or longer, the VA cannot reduce the rating below that level. It is considered protected by the 20-year rule and is called a continuous rating. There is an exception to the 20-year rule in cases where the VA discovers that the rating was based on fraud.
Changing a VA Disability Rating
A rating that has been protected by the 20-year rule cannot be reduced or changed for any reason. This includes having an improvement in the Veteran’s condition. The VA will not require a re-examination if you have continuously received benefits for 20 years or longer. Your rating will remain protected from any possibility of rate reduction, and you will continue to receive the same benefits.
If you have different ratings for your condition that changed over time, the protected rating would be the lowest rating assigned for the condition. A combined rating is protected under the 20-year rule.
Be aware that once you are protected by the 20-year rule, the VA will no longer send re-examination notices. Your rating will not decrease if any changes are made to existing or new laws. In cases where fraud was discovered in obtaining the rating, the rating would not be protected under the 20-year rule.
The VA may make a recent determination about a condition that goes back 20 years or more. The Veteran would receive a rating for that condition, the rate would be protected under the 20-year rule, and it would be retroactive from the effective date of the original condition even if the decision was recently made.
Contact an Experienced Veterans Benefits Attorney
If you have questions about the VA disability rate 20-year rule or about your VA disability rating or benefits, contact the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law. Our experienced legal team can provide a free, no-obligation consultation.